I watched Freedom Riders last night. It’s an awesome documentary that anyone working for equality on any level needs to see. It makes you wonder what are today’s activists willing to sacrifice for their civil rights?
It also reminds you how things haven’t changed all that much when it comes to forcing the federal government to take action. The Southern governors, as well as RFK and JFK — just wanted the whole mess to go away because it was politically damaging, not because civil rights were being violated.
In the end it wasn’t glad-handing or back-room negotiating in DC that finally pushed them to enforce the law of the land. It was the direct action and non-violent tactics of the Freedom Riders – like future Rep. John Lewis – who were willing to be burned out of a bus, and beaten by bats, pipes, anything the white mobs brought to bus stations.
A reminder that all forms of activism are valid and necessary to ensure equality because the status quo is politically safe unless challenged on every level.